Petrus Christus dress
I did mean to leave the actual dress until last, but my plans to start the headdress for this were somewhat derailed by technical problems beyond my control, so I started the dress this weekend.
There is some debate over whether the dresses of the late c15th had a waist seam or not, and I’ve done versions both with and without in the past. This time I’ve decided to go with the waist seam because a) I’ve found it more economical in it’s use of fabric whilst obtaining maximum skirt swishiness (technical term) and b) I find it gives a more elegant fall to the skirt whilst simultaneously allowing a better fit to the bodice.
Also, I’m a right lazy cow, and this method give you a good level hem every time without any effort, and the lining never gives any bother either.
Normally I would start with two long pieces of fabric sewn up the side to make a square, then cut that into a circle (the offcuts make the sleeves and body with nowt left but the tailor of Gloucester’s “tippets for mice”) but due to the nap of the velvet I made my square from four pieces this time, so the nap will always fall vaguely down
I basted the lining to the outer fabric along the centre seam to stop it shifting. This is invisible from the front and will not be removed.
The whole thing is flat-felled using unbleached linen thread – you can’t see it on the velvet and I’m not really bothered about it being visible on the black linen lining. I then basted around the entire hem to hold it until I finish it, but I used red linen for that.
I love the way the light bounces off this. I haven’t used velvet for over twenty years because I wasn’t able to get anything of a quality I was content with – I would rather use something else and make a different costume than compromise. The more I look at this the more I think that anyone using cotton velvet and insisting you can’t tell the difference must be either blind or deluded.
I still haven’t decided what to do with the hem though, so It’s probably just as well that I need to set it aside for a week or so. The painting has just the tiniest wee hint of a fur lining poking out, so tiny as to be barely discernable – we aren’t talking about the wide contrasting bands often seen at the hems of frocks like this. I’ve got fur for the collar and cuffs, and I do have some more I could use around the bottom, but I don’t think I have enough to line it and I’m not sure I want to since I’ll mostly be wearing it in summer. This leaves me with three options-1) finish the hem by simply folding the velvet and lining together, 2) do very very thin band of fur around the bottom to approximate the painting (which could look a bit wierd when the dress is lifted), or 3) do a brown silk velvet facing.
I’ll probably go with option 2 in the end, but I need to mull it over for a bit – mostly cos fur is a pain to work with and I always put it off til the last minute like maths homework
Actually, not like maths homework, I don’t think I ever did any maths homework when I was at school.